(the black album)

Enter Sandman
Sad But True
Holier Than Thou
The Unforgiven
Wherever I May Roam
Don't Tread On Me
Through The Never
Nothing Else Matters
Of Wolf And Man
The God That Failed
My Friend Of Misery
The Struggle Within

James Hetfield – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar on track 4, 5 and 8, lead guitar on track 8, first solo on track 11
Lars Ulrich – drums, percussion
Kirk Hammett – lead guitar
Jason Newsted – bass, backing vocals

Kill 'Em All (1983)
Ride the Lightning (1984)
Master of Puppets (1986)
...And Justice for All (1988)
Metallica (1991)
Live Shit: Binge & Purge (1993)
Load (1996)
ReLoad (1997)
Garage Inc. (1998)
S&M (1999 with San Fransisco Symphony orchestra)
St. Anger (2003)
Some Kind of Monster (Film, 2004)
Death Magnetic (2008)


Michael Kamen – orchestral arrangement on track 8
Bob Rock; James Hetfield; Lars Ulrich – producers
Randy Staub; Mike Tacci – engineers
George Marino – mastering
Michael Wagener; Mark Wilzcak – mixing
Q-Prime – management
Peter Mensch – cover concept
Don Brautigam – illustration
Ross Halfin; Rick Likong; Rob Ellis – photography

Released 13/8-1991
Reviewed 11/9-2011


1991 was the year the grunge had it's commersial break through when 'Nevermind' by Nirvana caused a flood (or tsunami) of bands like that to be seen, heard and recorded - like Pearl jam and Alice In Chains. 1991 was the year Guns 'N' Roses cemented their place as rock icons with the albums 'Use Your Illusion' 1 and 2. 1991 was the year one of the greatest entertainers in music died after a few years struggling with AIDs (Freddy Mercury of course). 1991 was the year R.E.M and Red Hot Chili Peppers had their commercial break through. 1991 we were shocked by U2 as they released 'Achtung baby', a giant leap away from the rock music they'd established themselves with. 1991 three people died during an AC/DC show in USA. 1991 was the year Swedish Carola won the Eurovision Song Contest. 1991 we saw the first album by The Smashing Pumpkins, called 'Gish', whom later would become one of the biggest bands on this planet. But I wonder if we who read Hallowed aren't remembering 1991 mostly because of an almost completely black album released by the biggest thrash metal band in the world - Metallica. 1991 was the year they released their self-titled album and in August it was 20 years since the album appeared at the stores. This is a Hallowed classic review on this immortal album that by year end of 2010 had sold more than 22 million units (which is over 1,1 million albums a year. Or almost 100 000 albums each month. Or about 3000 albums each day, every day all year - meaning around 145 albums each hour. Per minute, this equals 2,1 albums every minute every hour every day every week every month every year for 20 years. In other words, every 28th second a 'Metallica' album has been sold consecutive for 20 years). Had it been murders instead of albums sold it would be enough to kill off all people in Tokyo with suburbs. Perhaps that is saying something about how many people that has bought this album - not even the greatest city on the planet can cover for all the murders it could produce in 20 years.

'Metallica' became the last Metallica album for over 10 years to still sound thrash metal. From the very beginning all the way to 'Load', Metallica had gone this direction - to sound less and less thrash metal and with the commercial success of The Unforgiven and Nothing Else Matters the way they went from there was not surprising. The album in itself is one of those really big classics, in the samecategory as 'The Joshua Tree' by U2, 'Slippery When Wet' by Bon Jovi, 'Appetite For Destruction' by Gins 'N' Roses and of course 'Spice' by Spice Girls. An album always mentioned when we're talking this kind of music and the icons within it. The twelve songs make up 62 1/2 minutes of music, which is very long for an album - especially in this day and age. The album generated six singles (50% of the songs) and above the mentioned two these were Enter Sandman, Don't Tread On Me, Wherever I may Roam and Sad But True. All though none of the singles reached top position anywhere most of them were popular and peaked high in many countries. The variation of songs, both on the album as full and among the singles, are very impressing and I don't think any commercial successful album has generated such a variation. Here are the calm ballads Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven, the typical (heavy) rock songs Enter Sandman and Wherever I May Roam, the really, really heavy songs Sad But True and Don't Tread On Me, the very fast songs Holier Than Thou and Through The Never as well as the slower heavy songs Of Wolf And Man and The God That Failed. I think the whole concept with the completely black album, the dark band photos, the dark production by Bob Rock and so on helped putting that iconic feeling on the album, all though when everything comes around it is filled to the limit with really good songs and after all that's what really counts.

The album is introduced by the first single of the album, Enter Sandman. A song that starts with a guitar intro that takes it in to a pretty heavy rock- or hard rock song, putting the standard high immediately. The album is dark production wise and the lyrics as well with songs about bad self esteem and other inner conflicts. The recording was going on for almost a full year with retakes, rewriting and rerecordings until they finally launched the album with a sound that had such a feeling to it that it could throw you in to a wall and keeps bouncing in to you, wether you want it or not, with its cleanliness and a song material that feels 100% done. No bullshit. No chitchat. Just music without anything to complain about. James Hetfield sings better than he had on previous four albums and with this album he more or less completely left the youthful, screaming voice that had been somewhat of an annoyance from time to time on especially 'Kill 'Em All' and 'Ride The Lightning'. The music comes, as already mentioned, with a very varied range of soft, hard, heavy, slow, fast and something in the middle of this. It even throws some strings in to Nothing Else Matters, signed later to return to Metallica director Michael Kamen. An easy way to describe this album for familiar fans of Metallica would be to say it's a mix of what we can hear on '…And Justice For All' and 'Load'.

Hand on heart though, I don't think this is the best Metallica album. I think it's the most well-made and it has some of the best songs this band has ever done - but I wouldn't recommend it to people first when it comes to the Metallica albums. It's not the one I would recommend first from the first five albums or the five albums released in the 90's. I think it's good, it brilliant! It's a fantastic, well-made album in every way and it doesn't miss anything actually. It's immortal, and as any album that ends up being immortal it can't possibly live up to its reputation. That's just the way it is, how could anyone live up to being immortal? Perhaps the best album ever in that kind of music? Well, not many do - if any - but that's not why I don't recommend this before all the other Metallica albums. It's simply because I don't emotionally bond to this album in the same way I bond with the frenetic melodies of '…And Justice For All' or the beautiful strings on 'S&M'. But of course, you have to feel something for the rocking Enter Sandman, the beautiful Nothing Else Matters, the heavy groove in Of Wolf And Man and the mean, almost stabbing Through The Never. And that's what makes this album so good - variation, precision and getting the best out of it. If there's anything one could say there's room to improve it would be the vocals because this isn't really the best performance Hetfield has made, nor is he the best vocalist when he is, and this is a bit from the best he can do.

'Metallica' is and will remain as one of the foundations for this kind of music. It's a really good album. A really heavy album. A really nice album to hear as soon as the heavy riffs start in Enter Sandman all the way through to the last struggling sounds in The Struggle Within. To find a single error in this albums is as difficult as to find that famous needle someone lost in the haystack and had to find rather than buy a new one. There is no band I've listen to as much as Metallica and 'Metallica' is a big reason for this. Haven't heard it yet? It's definitely time to check it out! No one that likes hard rock should go through life without hearing it at least a few times. Below you can look at a few videos from the album but there's much more to get from it played in full. This is an album self written on any list you make of albums you really should listen to before you die!


Enter Sandman: Sad But True: Wherever I May Roam: Nothing Else Matters:

Label: Elektra/Vertigo/Universal
Three similar bands: Megadeth/Anthrax/Overkill
Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm
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